Minimum wage increases on ballot in five states; Germany approves increase to $9.62 an hour

We’ve written about how increasing the minimum wage gained momentum as income inequality became a politically potent rallying cry. The November election, according to Ballotpedia, will determine wage rates in five states.

Minimum wage

Measures aiming to increase the minimum wage have been popular proposals in 2016. South Dakotans will vote on a veto referendum to do the opposite by lowering, rather than raising, the minimum wage for minors.

Minimum wage measures on the ballot in 2016
State Measures
Arizona Arizona Minimum Wage and Paid Time Off, Proposition 206
Colorado Colorado $12 Minimum Wage, Amendment 70
Maine Maine Minimum Wage Increase, Question 4
South Dakota South Dakota Decreased Youth Minimum Wage Veto Referendum, Referred Law 20
Washington Washington Minimum Wage Increase, Initiative 1433

Then today we learn that Germany has increased its minimum wage. We’ll admit to being surprised that the economic powerhouse of the EU has been both reluctant to impose a national minimum and that the rate was relatively modest. (Admittedly, other compensation considerations, including social welfare policies, make cross-national comparisons dicey.) Still, this is interesting.

Merkel’s Cabinet approved Wednesday lifting the minimum wage to 8.84 euros ($9.62) per hour effective Jan. 1. It’s stood at 8.50 euros since it was introduced in January 2015…

Germany was long one of few major Western industrial nations with no government-mandated national minimum wage. Merkel’s conservatives opposed it but the center-left Social Democrats insisted on it as part of the price for entering her government after a 2013 election.

In Iowa, Republican Gov. Terry Branstad is also looking at the minimum wage, though from a different perspective.

Gov. Terry Branstad said Monday he will explore a statewide increase in the minimum wage, replacing minimum wage hikes being approved on a county-by-county basis throughout Iowa…

However, Branstad also appeared to leave the door open for keeping the minimum wage at $7.25 an hour and having the Legislature simply approve a measure to block individual counties from raising the pay for low-income workers.

Such preemption is not unusual. Nineteen states bar cities from setting their own wage ratesLouisville’s minimum wage hike was recently struck down by the state Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t already marked your ballot on Washington’s Initiative 1433, this AP story presents the arguments on both sides. Also, as we wrote earlier, it’s complicated. For more information on the initiative, we recommend this report from the Washington Research Council.